Juvenile DWI

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance among America’s adolescents and its toll on youth, their families and communities is serious. There are a myriad of reasons that teens decide to drink (e.g., self-medicating, mental health issue(s), rite of passage, the physical and emotional feelings that arise from drinking, social influences, easy access and/or parental acceptance of drinking). Effective judicial responses to a youth’s drinking require an evaluation of its root causes, screening and assessing, incorporating developmentally appropriate interventions and judicial leadership. It is imperative that youth are screened and assessed by a trained professional early in an underage drinking case. Judges can play a major role in curbing underage drinking by becoming more involved with strategies and programs aimed at tackling underage drinking in their jurisdiction.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judge created a bench card, Effective Judicial Interventions for Underage Drinking Bench Card to assist juvenile court judges and other juvenile justice professionals when handling underage drinking cases. The intention of the bench card is to educate and guide juvenile court judges and juvenile justice professionals on effectively handling underage drinking offenders to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities. 

To download the benchcard, click here

A Judicial Curriculum on Juvenile Justice DWI and Alcohol and Other Drug Use: Saving Lives and Strengthening Communities is designed for judges who hear juvenile Driving While Impaired (DWI) cases and other alcohol related offenses. The audience may include other members of a community who have an interest in the topic area. Judges may be from the juvenile, family, district or adult court systems and have a varied level of experience. This training includes concepts that may challenge the practices or “thinking” of an individual or a jurisdiction.

This package of lesson plans is not constructed as a series of short lectures or leader presentations. They are designed to be a series of facilitated and guided activities that sequentially and cumulatively help participants examine and increase their understanding of youth DWI. The lessons guide them further through an examination of what they might do individually and in their teams to develop a court model that best meets the needs of youth, families, and communities.

To download the curriculum, click here.

Training Package Overview

The training package is made up of seven lesson plans designed for 2-3 hour presentations. Each lesson plan is designed as an individual workshop. If a training/conference coordinator wishes to offer all seven as a series, the overview outline represents our recommendation for the most useful sequence of topic areas. Should the training be adapted and module is changed, reorder, or eliminated, it is suggested that the coordinator create a new module segues between topics to provide a smooth transition. Be sure to check for logical sequence and duplicative content when new material is added or topics reordered. The modules are sequenced to maximize participant understanding of the problem, the unique need of adolescents, the necessity to collaborate with law enforcement, and finally empowered them to create an action plan to effect change in their own communities. The following overview chart describes the aims of each lesson in the package:

Module 1: Introduction and Overview

  • This module will introduce the rest of the training and the workshop goals and objectives.

Module 2: Alcohol and Other Drug Problems in Adolescents – Trends

  • Describe trends and patterns of AOD in adolescents as they relate to most frequently used drugs, attitudes, availability, drinking/using behavior, and driving patterns.

  • Use the “trends” information to develop suggestions for steps for judges, communities, parents and schools to take to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by impaired driving among adolescents.

Module 3: Adolescent Development

  • Describe the manifestations of popular youth culture.

  • Distinguish adult and adolescent development issues.

  • Relate the reasons adolescents use drugs to developmental issues.

  • Explain the implications of adolescent development for DWI court practices.

Module 4: Law Enforcement and the Courts

  • Explain the laws that have been enacted to reduce the instance of adolescent alcohol and other drug related car crashes and how these laws relate to the characteristics of adolescents and their drinking and driving patterns.

  • Describe the challenges to law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the court/judges in enforcing these laws.

  • Determine the critical roles of the judges, law enforcement and the prosecutor in overcoming the challenges to enforcement of the laws.

  • Explain the relationship of enforcement of existing laws to the reduction in the number of alcohol-related car crashes among adolescents.

Module 5: Screening and Assessment

  • Distinguish screening from assessment and identify two strategies for each.

  • Develop a list of assessment report elements that would indicate the thoroughness of the assessment process.

  • Highlight the key areas of concern for assessing family issues.

  • Identify the elements of a strength-based approach to assessments.

  • Develop a set of expectations for the “system” approach to screening and assessment.

Module 6: Dispositions

  • Describe the balanced approach to dispositions.

  • Determine the goal(s), benefits and challenges of specific sanctions.

  • Describe the purposes and goals of treatment.

  • Identify questions to ask when seeking appropriate treatment providers.

Module 7: Engaging the Community

  • Describe three levels of programs in the continuum of community responses.

  • For each level, explain the purpose, the target population, the community entities most likely involved, and at least two examples of programs.

  • Create an action plan for initiating or continuing involvement in the community response.

To request technical assistance, please email Eloisa Chaparro at echaparro@ncjfcj.org.